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Photojournalism 20/20 [Postponed]

Robert Heinecken
Robert Heinecken Archive/Purchase

Photojournalism 20/20 is conceived of as an interactive, evolving installation that explores photojournalism, yesterday and today.

This first edition of the CCP Interdisciplinary Gallery considers what it means to achieve a 20/20 “clarity of vision” in our saturated image culture, noisy information environment, and charged political atmosphere. It engages with key questions we ask of images in order to more deeply understand the stories they tell. It embraces photographs taken “on the front line” as open forums for exchange and debate.

In 2019, Susan Bright and Hedy van Erp authored Photography Decoded, which works to dispel the myth of photography being instinctively legible by posing a series of critical questions, including: Is it real? What do I remember? Why is it famous? What makes it problematic? Public or private? Photographs are complex, they argue, but complex does not mean impenetrable. Their questions are intended to be useful when thinking about any photograph.

Taking Photography Decoded as basis, this five-month project combines photojournalism materials drawn from the CCP’s collection with Bright and van Erp’s original list of questions, together with a large-scale projection of social media feeds from photojournalists, news media outlets, and trending hashtags. Such a design activates Photography Decoded, placing scholarship into live, actual practice, and it invites visitors to take part in responding to the texts, to the photographs, and to the consumption of news through social media. 

Photojournalism 20/20 demands we pay close attention—and raise good, reflective questions—to the images we encounter. This kind of care in deliberation seems especially important with respect to photojournalism, the visual conduit into our news and our lives together, in the critical moment of a political election season.